Borrow money from banks to pay compensation, HC tells govt., MCC

Court speaks up for victims of landfill disaster in Mangaluru

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday said that the State government and the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) must make arrangements even by borrowing money from banks by mortgaging properties of the MCC to pay adequate compensation to the persons who lost their houses, land and crops due to slippage of garbage dumped at Pachhanadi landfill during rains last year.

The Court issued the direction after the MCC said that it has paid compensation partly as the government has released only ₹8 crore as against ₹22 crore sought for paying compensation and to remove the legacy waste from the landfill. The government, on the other hand, said that it cannot pay more to the MCC, which has to make arrangements from its own resources by utilising part of money from ₹8 crore even to pay compensation.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi issued the direction while hearing a PIL petition, filed by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, which had pointed out the plight of the victims of Pachhanadi incident and non-implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, by the MCC.

The Bench also told the government that it cannot be a silent spectator when failure of a local authority to implement rules results in violation of fundamental rights of the citizen, while hoping that the government would change its stand and release necessary funds to the MCC.

The Bench said that it is crystal clear from the records that the Pachhanadi incident, which had resulted in loss of properties and livelihood of several families in violation of their fundamental right, occurred due to complete failure to abide by the SMW Rules and gross negligence by the MCC.

Noticing that the MCC has unilaterally paid compensation only for loss of crops and trees without inviting any claims from the affected persons and without giving them an opportunity of hearing, the Bench directed the MCC Commissioner to personally explain through videoconference during next date of hearing how the MCC will raise money to pay adequate compensation and implement the rules.

The MCC has also been directed to give a public notice inviting the affected persons to submit claims by submitting documents and to give them proper hearing before determining adequate compensation, which cannot be less than what has been paid already, taking into account loss of houses, lands, crops, other assets and livelihood.

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